Pouring wine. Christmas wine. Christmas, falling snow, golden snowflakes. New Year close up

It’s that time of year again when normal dining goes out of the window and cheap crackers and festive menus adorn most restaurants.  I have nothing against a festive inspired menu, but when it is used as an excuse to charge diners a premium for substandard food I really do object and sadly it seems that each year this is exactly what many restaurants and hotels do.

This week my husband, our four children and I decided to take a blustery walk along Aberystwyth’s seafront and dine at the Pier Brasserie. As a family we have eaten here many times before and have always found the food and service to be reasonably good. However, I am sad to say that the meal we endured on Friday evening means we will probably never dine at the Pier Brasserie again.

Indeed it was nothing short of awful and not only was it a bad meal, but it was an expensive bad meal. Sadly, I cannot even say that there was any style to the meal, it was a sloppy mess that took an age to arrive and left me thinking of soup kitchens and school dinners.

When I phoned to reserve a table at Pier Brasserie I was informed that only their three course Christmas menu was available at £25.00 per head. This sounded perfectly reasonable, especially as children could dine on one course for £4.95.

The menu was by no means exotic and so I expected that what was effectively roast dinners and cold starters would come out swiftly and would be well executed, however, the reality was a long wait and a disappointing starter and main that finished with a passable pudding.

I’m a vegetarian and so I plumped for the chickpea terrine as my starter, whilst my husband opted for the chicken liver and cider pâté.  So, let’s tart with the description of my dish, the menu read,

‘chickpea terrine with tahini and lemon, served with warm  and apricot, ginger and sultana chutney’.

What arrived was a small metal pot that contained a rough sort of hummous that was served next to a dollop of chutney and two small piece of toast. A roughly blitzed tin of chickpeas was not a good start to my dining experience, however, my husband reported that his pâté was fine, although more toast was really necessary.

We waited for over half an hour for our main to arrive and when they did it was noticeable that my husband’s roast turkey dinner was missing the chestnut stuffing mentioned on the menu, however, what was of more concern was the watery, over-cooked, soggy vegetables and the cooked from frozen, dry roast potatoes.

The children’s vegetarian meals arrived with pigs-in-blankets on the plates and had to be sent back. My concern is that they just removed the meat from the plates and sent the same dishes back out. The Mediterranean tart was missing its rocket salad but came with the same dismally disappointing vegetables  as did the parsnip and Cheddar Glamorgan crumbles. 

To be fair the Parsnip and Cheddar Glamorgan Crumbles were quite tasty, but the vegetables and jellified gravy let the dish down. The mashed potatoes were dry and grainy as if made from powder and the roast potatoes were not fresh. The Mediterranean tart was tomato based and the best description I can offer is edible.

When we arrived the restaurant wasn’t busy, but by the time the puddings were ordered a large student party had arrived, but even taking this into account service was painfully slow.  

The puddings took ages to arrive and whilst the children’s ice creams and my husbands Christmas  pudding were all satisfactory my cheesecake was lacking on the flavour front, but was infinitely better than the other courses.

A bill of £95.60p was settled and I couldn’t help wondering why I had just paid to eat vegetables and a meal that was far inferior to anything I would cook at home. Half eaten dinners were left by us all and we went home to get some supper.

Royal Pier, we are disappointed and we know you can do far better. It seems that like so many establishments the Royal Pier are unable to deliver simple turkey and tinsel.